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BARC signs deal with Médiamétrie today

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MUMBAI: It was just last week that the  Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) notified the TV ratings agency registration regulations. And the industry-backed Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) reps were summoned to New Delhi to give the ministry an update on how much progress has been made on the new proposed TV ratings system for India. They did. Today, BARC also gave the press an insight into how far down the road it has gone.

Indiantelevision.com was the first to report that  BARC had chosen  French audience measurement company Médiamétrie as its ratings partner. No cofirmations came from BARC. But today its chairman Punit Goenka  announced that Médiamétrie is indeed BARC’s official technology partner and will also provide licences to BARC to use its TV metering system.

“Médiamétrie has an in-house research team that helps it to understand the needs of the industry just as how BARC realises what the industry needs. I have heard people ask that BARC is just barking but when will it bite? But now I say we are here to bite!” Goenka remarked candidly while signing the deal at Mumbai’s ITC Grand Central hotel. Médiamétrie will assist the council in procuring its own metering hardware.

The French audience measurement system will be providing the audio watermarking technology to BARC to monitor TV consumption through its 20,000 strong panel. “Médiamétrie wrote to BARC months back. It uses watermarking technology so it is very accurate and can measure data when it is simulcast. Meters are easy to make so we spoke to agencies and advertisers in France to do our background study on Médiamétrie. It is a landmark day for us,” said BARC tech committee chairman Shashi Sinha.

Sinha also stated that the new ratings system should be up and running by 1 October, 2014. “Around 25 vendors approached us out of which we shortlisted four to five. We have got the best of vendors, technology and price of meters. The most important thing for us is transparency,” he said. It will soon be announcing media partners as well.

BARC has been scouting for a technology partner since several months now and finally it has concluded the deal with the French company. BARC CEO Partho Das Gupta said at the conference: “Since the past few months we have been researching the tech we should use and have finally selected the right one.”

Present at the conference was also Médiamétrie senior VP Benoit Cassaigne who was excited to be a part of the deal. “We are among the top five companies in the world and the leading research company in France,” he said.

Goenka emphasised that since BARC is a non-profit body, broadcasters will comply with it. “We are not here to make profits, we are here to help the industry,” he said.

However, no one was willing to talk about the future of TAM. “We hope there is no ratings blackout in the coming months, but if there is then it can’t be helped. We are working towards getting a better system,” he added.

Star India COO Sanjay Gupta says that TAM and government need to sit and decide now. “Advertisers are obviously worried as to what will happen if there is no rating system in place. Maybe they will look at the past ratings and set prices,” he said.

The contract with Médiamétrie has been signed for a 1+5 year term. The Council says it is totally  open to regular external audits. The funding to put up the new system in place has been divided as follows: 60 per cent Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), 20 per cent ISA and 20 per cent Indian Advertisers Agencies Association of India (AAAI).

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